Friday, November 21, 2008

College Days

I had a dream the other night that I was moving back into my college dorm room for another year. When I woke up I was sad for just a second that it wasn’t true. I love my life now, but it’s still fun to reminisce about great times in the past. Sometimes I wish I could go back for a day or two and relive my college experience. Of course that would be a day or two with no exams or papers looming. My mind pleasantly blocks the super stressful times and just recalls the good times with good friends and the feelings of learning and growing as a person.

Oh, and Jack Hanna is coming to my alma mater this weekend, and I’m jealous he never came when I was there. :)

So, why am I talking about college? Well, it’s not a huge deal, but I think it is worth a mention for writers doing research and developing characters. And I only bring it up because I’ve noticed it a few times now in recent manuscripts: Apparently it’s easy to mention a real school or program of study as a bit of background information on a character without doing some quick research on it. In content reviews, I’ve found myself questioning things like whether or not a character could have actually gotten the degree she has at the real college we learn she went to. Because with my quick look on the school website, it doesn’t seem so. Or maybe the degree and college match up, but from the rest of what we know about a character, it doesn’t seem likely she has that degree. Sure we’re working on fiction, and yet we want to be realistic and get our facts straight and keep our characters consistent, too.

I realize this post is rather boring, but that’s my friendly reminder about the importance of research and fact checking. :) The little details matter, and many readers do notice.

And now, we need to liven things up a bit. If you have one, tell us about a favorite college memory. One of my funniest involves a metal coat hanger, a vending machine, and a Honey Bun at about 1AM in the laundry room of Willetts Hall, but you really had to be there…. I don’t have a picture of that, but the one I’ve posted is of another fond memory. Hallway soccer in the dorm.


Mary Connealy said...

I was very active in the radio-television station at my college, also the newspaper but that wasn't as central. I was the manager of the radio station one semester of my senior year and I directed the nightly news for the television station.

I loved radio best.
And I did sports commentary. I kept stats for boys sports and did color commentary for the girls basketball team. I traveled with the team ... not far-flung travel, we were a small college but we drove to area colleges, into Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas.

The first time I did an away game as a color commentator for girls basketball, I was in charge of making the telephone connection to our radio station back home.

I screwed it up.

I thought we were connected by we weren't. So Kathy-who did play by play--and I spend the whole first half enthusiastically calling that game.
Then, during halftime, a security guard came over to us and said, "We got a call to the police station, your radio stations been trying every way they know how to contact you and tell you you're not coming through."


My fellow radio students mocked me for the rest of my college years.

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi JoAnne,
College was a lot farther back for me, but I still have some fun memories. One of the funniest is the day some guys put a possum in the elevator at Buxton Hall, an all girls dorm at Oregon State University. You should have heard the screaming! I didn't get to ride in the elevator with the possum, but I did watch from the main floor lounge as the security guards removed the poor little guy. I am sure he was never the same.

I am writing a Civil War Christmas novella for Barbour now, and I am constantly checking facts. Yesterday I was checking on the history of eggnog to see if one of my co-authors could use it in her novella. We critique for each other and check up on things like this to be sure we have it right. Yes, it was popular in the 1860s. : )


Anonymous said...

I went to nursing school so most of my stories tend to be on the gross side but I'll give it a shot.

In nursing school, students have to work 4 to 8 hour shifts called clinicals. I was so excited my first day of clinical. To be actually working with patients, helping them get well. But by the end of the week, I was terrified. My instructor flunked five out of the twelve girls in my group by the end of that first week.

So when she told me on Thursday that she would be grading my performance on Friday, I was sick to my stomach. I studied but really what could you study for by that point. On Friday, I went in to check on my patient only to find that he had been prescribed a pain medication, an injection.

And I had never given a shot before in my life.

As I'm drawing up the medicine, my hand shaking, my answers to her questions rattling around my brain, an idea possessed me. I laid down the syringe and turned to my instructor.

"Ms. Blank?"(not her name)

"Yes, Patty."

"I'm sorry if this sounds horrible but you scare me to death."

She looked at me kind of funny. "Why?"

"Because you've failed half my class already, and I don't want to be next on your hit list."

I must have looked pathetic because the woman actually put her arm around me and gave me a hug. "You're not going to fail.

That woman didn't flunk another person in our class that year or the next. And when my daughter, Jennifer was born premature a few years later, she was the first one there, offering her expertise in pediatics to care for her.

As for research, I'm all for it. For my WWII book, I've interviewed dozens of vets and gone to several air museums. At the last one in Dallas, Tx, this gentleman who flew on D-day actually taught me how to fly a P-47. And two of his stories gave me great jumpoff points for several chapters in my book.

Patty Hall

Erica Vetsch said...

Oh, college was a wonderful experience for me. One of my favorite experiences was the great chapel speakers we had.

Tony Evans from the Urban Alternative preached all the way through the book of Romans in about 17 minutes.

Lynette Sowell said...

One of my favorite college memories is taking an (almost) all-night road trip with four of my friends. We were in college near Harrisburg PA and her mom was in the hospital in Leesburg VA. She was really down at not getting to see her, so we piled in a car and drove 90 miles at 10:00 at night so Melinda could see her mom. One of those, Oh, we're not doing anything Friday night...sort of things. We made a side trip on the way down so Jane could say hi to her folks, and then on the way back stopped at an all-night diner (to this day I have NO idea where). We didn't get back until way past 3 AM. I would SO yell at either of my kids if they tried something like that now! LOL. :)

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

I LOVE JACK HANNA!! He's on every morning here. I listen to him as I get ready for work.

My favorite college memory involves my room mate and a cold, snowy morning at Michigan State. She fell off the curb, into the street, lost her earmuffs, almost got run over by a van...okay, so it was funnier when she was telling it... :-)

Anonymous said...

After thinking about this(and watching college football all day,) I came up with a better story of my college days.

All through high school, I dreamed of going to a big school--UGA, Alabama, Florida--and got accepted for several. Money was tight and I just couldn't afford it so I went to a small university about thirty minutes from my house. But every weekend, I'd visit my friends going to the big schools.

One week after a weekend at University of Georgia, I went to the basketball game with some of my friends. Being a cheerleader in high school, I hated the thought that we didn't have a school fight cheer. So , there in the stands, right in the middle of a game, I did a take on UGA's cheer and screamed out:


Sorry UGA, but I thought we needed a fight cheer. It stuck. We're now known as the Fighting Hoot Owls of Kennesaw State University.

Patty Smith Hall

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

When Bill Clinton was campaigning for president, he and Hilary came to our college. It was so crowded. I was on the front row by the yellow rope and from the heat, crowd and a skipped meal, I fainted. As I went down, all I could think about was not getting my brand new white jeans dirty.

Security rushed at me and dragged me by my feet under the rope and pulled me out of the crowd so I wouldn't get trampled. Still, all I could think about was ruining my white jeans.

Hilary snapped her fingers and ordered a bottle of water given to me. It instantly appeared. I was sitting on a folding chair beside where she and Bill were talking--now on stage in front of thousands! Not my idea of a picnic--and in dirty white jeans.

Janet Spaeth said...

My college story: I was with my new boyfriend when my eyes got dry. I was wearing contacts then, and I didn't have the case with me. I didn't want him to know that my eyes were bothering me (I was being cool, y'know), so I got a glass of water and put the contacts in the glass until it came time to leave.

No glass.

Yup, you guessed it. He drank them. Bless his heart, he worked all Christmas break to get enough money to replace them.

And no, we didn't stay together!

JoAnne said...

Thanks for the great stories everyone! And Jennifer and Janet - wow. Water from Hillary and water tainted with contact lenses. Wow.

Cathy S. said...


I couldn't think of a story when you first put up the post. All these great stories have jogged my memory.

When I was in college, one summer I worked as a waitress at an upscale restaurant/bar at a lakeside resort. (BTW, I would not work in a place that served liquor now and I didn't drink then or now. It was a good job for the tips and my BF helped me get it.)

Willie Nelson came to play at the state fair and stayed at the resort. That night, after the restaurant closed, he and his band came in after their performance and were hungry. We stayed open to serve them and the band went out on the mini-stage area and gave a concert.

Hearing Willie croon "You Were Always on My Mind" was wonderful. I still get chills thinking about it. They gave away some of their concert T-shirts but they ran out. I collected T-shirts and wanted one desperately. A band member gave me his and I gave him mine. (It was all private, handing stuff out through the restroom door).

My boss wasn't too happy I gave away my shirt associated with work but it was the end of summer and the job was ending, too.

Those were the days!

Thanks for stirring up a great memory, JoAnne.


Cecelia Dowdy said...

Oh, my! Dreaming about college! As my hubby and my sister both know, I have a recurring dream about being in school. Sometimes it's high school and sometimes it's college. I dream about it, maybe, twice a year! Maybe God's trying to tell me I still have a lot to learn in life!

My college days were great! I fondly remember hanging out with friends, dating, going to parties, all-nighters, etc. I have to sit and think about which memory is the best, though. Right now, all of them are cluttered in my mind.